“I WANT TO EN­JOY LIFE”

AF­TER THREE DECADES IN THE SPOT­LIGHT, DANNII MINOGUE IS LIGHTENING UP – IN BOTH HER CHOICE OF HAIR COLOUR AND HER AP­PROACH TO LIFE

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Photography SI­MON LEKIAS Styling GEMMA KEIL Cre­ative di­rec­tion ALEKSANDRA BEARE Words SARAH BLAKE

Dannii Minogue talks moth­er­hood, Kylie and why, af­ter three decades in show busi­ness, she’s stopped car­ing about what peo­ple think of her.

Dannii Minogue has been go­ing since be­fore dawn af­ter a late-night flight into town, and hav­ing danced her way through four hours of Stel­lar’s photo shoot, she’s now re­clin­ing on a soft couch in a warm patch of sun.

It’s clear the pe­tite 45-year-old would love noth­ing more than a quiet nanna nap be­fore she heads back to Syd­ney air­port to fly home to Mel­bourne, but with a packed pub­lic­ity sched­ule be­fore a din­ner date with the man in her life, sleep will have to wait.

“I don’t want to keep any­one wait­ing around,” she ex­plains as she shrugs off her tired­ness, musters a smile and switches on.

It comes as no sur­prise the younger Minogue sis­ter is a trouper, given she’s been in show­biz since pri­mary school, first in Young Tal­ent Time in Aus­tralia and later as a TV star here and in her se­cond home of Lon­don. But for a long time the nar­ra­tive sur­round­ing Minogue was that she was the edgy and trou­ble­some coun­ter­point to pop-star sis­ter Kylie, who at three years her se­nior was al­ready a house­hold name in the UK when Minogue headed over there in the 1990s.

Prom­i­nent roles as a judge on Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent and The X Fac­tor in both the UK and Aus­tralia have in the past decade made Minogue a huge name in her own right in both coun­tries, but back then there was in­tense fo­cus on the re­bel­lious lit­tle sis­ter cast in Kylie’s shadow.

“It was all just this great good vs. evil bat­tle, and they don’t like each other, and all of these head­lines,” Minogue says. “It didn’t mat­ter what we said or did, it was a great story that peo­ple liked to run.”

Most jour­nal­ists con­tinue to still ask her about Kylie dur­ing in­ter­views, and her re­sponse is prac­tised: “If any­body wants to know any­thing about Kylie then they can ask her.

“My only con­cern is that it’s her story and her pri­vacy,” she ex­plains. “It’s the same with the rest of my fam­ily, it’s just pro­tect­ing their pri­vacy.”

What she is more than happy to talk about is that pre­vi­ously men­tioned man, her six-year-old son with for­mer part­ner, Bri­tish model and re­cent re­cruit on this year’s sea­son of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Kris Smith.

Ethan, who is in Year One at a Mel­bourne pri­mary school, is the rea­son she moved back home to Aus­tralia six years ago af­ter so long in Bri­tain.

“I was very adamant that I didn’t want to live half there, half here any­more,” she says of the move. “I just can’t do that and keep up the school rou­tine, and be with my son, and I want him to have the school ex­pe­ri­ence and not the home­school ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Minogue quit The X Fac­tor last year and has just re­turned to our screens co-host­ing BBC se­ries Let It Shine, where she and for­mer Span­dau Bal­let bassist Martin Kemp are among a panel as­sem­bling a cover ver­sion of boy band Take That to star in a year-long West End stage show. “Time-wise it just ticked every box,” she says of the new role. “I love the pos­i­tiv­ity, I love the peo­ple who are in it and be­hind it, and what the end goal of the thing is for the peo­ple who are in the com­pe­ti­tion.”

But be­ing a sin­gle mother and work­ing for weeks at a time in the UK to keep up her bi-con­ti­nen­tal ca­reer does re­quire an in­tri­cate jug­gle. “It’s quite hec­tic with the lo­gis­tics. If I’m not work­ing or do­ing some­thing with [Ethan], I am or­gan­is­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen next,” she ex­plains. “You have to be or­gan­ised, but I think any par­ent has to be, just to deal with it all. You have to be or­gan­ised to get the kids to school, to get lunches done.

“But I think it’s im­por­tant that I am do­ing what I said to Ethan that I re­ally en­joy, so he sees that I am ful­fill­ing the stuff that I want to do, too. I just don’t want it to be tak­ing away from time that I’ll miss out on with him, that I won’t get back again.”

Be­ing an older mother – she was 38 when Ethan came along – has been an un­ex­pected bless­ing for Minogue, who says that not only is she a far bet­ter par­ent at this age than she would have been ear­lier in life, but that the ex­pe­ri­ence has changed her.

“I wouldn’t have had the ma­tu­rity to do it be­fore,” she says. “It’s a more self­ish time when you are younger, and I wanted to do ev­ery­thing, I wanted to work ev­ery­where, I wanted to travel, and I did. So I guess I can en­joy it more now.”

This more ma­ture Minogue is also rel­ish­ing the free­dom of not wor­ry­ing so much about what peo­ple think of her.

“I think as I am get­ting older I am just: ‘Who cares? If you make a mis­take, you make a mis­take,’” she says.

“You have to just en­joy life, be re­laxed. I have a very for­tu­nate life, so why stress?” Moth­er­hood has also taught her the im­por­tance of look­ing af­ter her­self and mak­ing time to take a break.

“Be­cause I have worked for so long, I’m able to take long stretches of time off work, which is great,” she says.

“But I feel like I’ve earned that. There’s not many peo­ple who have worked solidly since they’re seven. Like, I should be re­tir­ing now. So it’s OK to take time off, and it’s OK to go to work and do stuff that I want to do.”

Af­ter a rel­a­tively long hia­tus, we are go­ing to be see­ing a lot more of Minogue in com­ing months. She’s start­ing a new role as a men­tor to the nom­i­nees in this year’s Lo­gies for the Most Out­stand­ing New­comer cat­e­gory, and has just been ap­pointed the first Aus­tralian celebrity muse for L’oréal Pro­fes­sion­nel, who has light­ened her brunette locks us­ing its new prod­uct Smart­bond.

“I have wanted to go blonde for ages and my man­ager wasn’t very keen on it, and my mum was like, ‘No,’” she says. “And you know, [Smart­bond] is re­ally cool be­cause I can do it and then safely de­cide I can just change back the colour with­out any dam­age. Be­cause, on a screen, you can see so closely now. You can see every hair, every pore, ev­ery­thing, so I have to look af­ter those things be­cause of the work that I do on TV.

“I keep re­mind­ing my­self that most peo­ple have a TV in their lounge room that’s this big,” she says, spread­ing her arms.

Bal­anc­ing the public and pri­vate Minogue – she has for two years been in a low-key re­la­tion­ship with mu­si­cian Adrian New­man, about whom she is re­luc­tant to com­ment – is an­other as­pect of her life she’s happy with.

“I only do this for work,” she says, mo­tion­ing to her per­fectly made-up face. “It’s not how I am or who I am. I don’t dress up at home. It doesn’t go with my life­style; I’m not run­ning in heels to school.

“I just en­joy be­ing a mum, it’s the great­est thing and I just go for it. I mean, I love the cre­ativ­ity here and at work, where we can cre­ate pictures, cre­ate move­ment, cre­ate songs, cre­ate TV shows. But then there’s me out­side of that.”

And what’s tak­ing up the time out­side of her ca­reer is cel­e­brat­ing the small mile­stones that bring such colour to a life with chil­dren. She’s proud her boy is nail­ing his swim­ming lessons and now it’s all about rid­ing his bike with­out train­ing wheels, a task she is shar­ing with the rest of her Mel­bourne-based clan.

“We are con­cen­trat­ing on try­ing to learn to ride a bike, which is prob­a­bly the most stress­ful thing for me,” she says of their plans for the last week of the school hol­i­days.

“I am one of those mums who says, ‘Don’t go too fast; don’t do that.’ And then think­ing back to me learn­ing to ride a bike, I was scared and my dad and my brother were push­ing me, say­ing, ‘You just need to go.’

“So I have asked my dad and my brother, ‘Can you help?’” Minogue laughs, and then takes a deep breath be­fore ven­tur­ing a pre­dic­tion. “We’ll get there.”

``I have a very for­tu­nate life, so why stress?´´

DANNII WEARS Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo jacket, 1300 095 224; BOSS dress, (03) 9474 6304

HAIR & MAKE-UP Michael Brennan

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